Carter and the Curious Maze (Weird Stories Gone Wrong #3)by Philippa Dowding

Published August 6th 2016 by Dundurn

4 Stars

Synopsis: The fair is dull, dull, dull, and nothing interesting will ever happen to Carter again …
… that is, until he discovers the curious maze. Nothing has ever happened here in the history of the world, he thinks. But the maze has some strange secrets, and the spot Carter stands upon has seen some very exciting events over the centuries.
Once Carter enters the maze, odd people begin to appear. First he meets Mr. Green, the mysterious, creepy maze-keeper, then a leaf-covered girl, a lost little boy in old-fashioned clothes, a wounded British soldier, and finally an eighteenth-century native boy who seems very authentic, indeed.
When Carter eventually escapes the curious maze, the fair is all wrong. There are too many horses, ladies in bonnets, and what’s a freak show doing there? Carter begins his travels through time, and his dull afternoon is about to get very, very interesting.

My Review: Carter is too old for his town summer fair. Everything is dull and boring, that is until he enters the curious maze. The maze is run by an old man, Mr. Green, who appears to have a large, deformed, green thumb. The maze is from older times as described in the prologue as an introduction to the story.

Once inside, Carter realises that this maze isn’t a typical fairground attraction and it might take him far longer than expected to find his way home. He runs into characters from the past who he thinks are actors, but he is wrong. He ends up in various different times in history where sometimes he is seen and other times he is not. Carter soon discovers that some fairground attractions might harbour more secrets than they appear to at first glance. Parts of the book are scary and some younger readers might not like that part.

Because this is a short story that is part of the Weird Stories Gone Wrong series, there is not enough time to develop the characters. I really did not get a sense of who Carter was, but I do not think the age group this book is geared to will mind that too much. Carter’s journey takes the reader on a whirlwind trip into various historical periods, from the present all the way back to the very beginnings of European settlement in his local area. The problems he finds himself in are not very difficult to get out of, but it is still a fun and creepy read. The two main creepy characters, Mr Green and the “creepy leaf girl” that Carter encounters early on hit the mark in terms of creepiness and there is the sinister feeling you get whenever you meet Mr. Green. The illustrations are few, but they are in just the right spots to add to the story. There is just enough weirdness/creepiness to give the story an overall scary atmosphere. I think middle-grade students will really enjoy this book and it would be a good addition to school and class libraries. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.